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International Sporting Index: The Sportiest Countries Around

From the FA Cup, to the Premier League, the Super Bowl and, of course, the Olympic Games, sports are always at the centre of the media – and a lot of people’s daily lives revolve around sport in some way.

For us at Live Football Tickets, it would certainly be fair to say football is at the core of our lives – in and out of the office.

Being so closely aligned to the sporting world, it’s thrilling for us to see the role that sport plays in people’s lives around the world.

Studies claim that at least 40% of children in the United States play a team sport on a regular basis. Even people who don’t play a sport will often watch it regularly; some 112 million people around the world watched the Super Bowl in 2016, and the sports market in North America alone was worth more than $60 billion in 2014. Not only this, but some studies have even pointed to the fact that supporting a certain team, club, or sport can serve as a major factor in determining one’s identity.

This is why we decided to conduct a study into how big a role sport plays in people’s lives around the world.

In our brand-new International Sporting Index, we have analysed the sportiest countries around the world, by examining both the enthusiasm and talent for sport around the world.

For our analysis, we looked at a variety of factors sporting factors for every country in the world, including Olympics success, elite sport performance, exercise levels and FIFA ranking.

The country that has come in top in our study as the sportiest country in the world is, the USA.

The USA has an incredible 367 sports stadiums scattered around its 9 million km2 of land, and has won an average of 56.54 medals in each Olympic Game, across 27 summer games and 23 winter games.

Read on below for the full results and methodology.


The USA came out on top thanks to its recognition in the Global Sport ranking, as well as the Elite Sport Success ranking, both of which are statistical analyses of a country’s participation in the biggest global sports.

The USA came in first for both of these rankings, as well as placing 25th out of over 200 countries assessed for the FIFA World Ranking.

Following the USA, the top 10 countries are:

  1. Russia
  2. China
  3. Germany
  4. France
  5. United Kingdom
  6. Australia
  7. Japan
  8. Spain
  9. Italy

It is unsurprising that the USA, Russia, and China all placed in the top three, considering they make up three of the top 4 largest countries in the world. However, it wasn’t only size that contributed to their success in our ranking.

Both China and Russia have a relatively low prevalence of insufficient physical activity, according to the World Health Organisation, with 14.1% and 17.1% respectively. This means that the majority of the population in both of these countries achieves, on average, more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

Not only this, but both countries have achieved good Olympic medal success. Russia, for instance, has achieved an average of 45.67 medals (gold, silver, and bronze) across just 12 games, while China has been awarded an average of 28.95 across 21 games. They also both scored within the top 10 for the Elite Sport Success Ranking.

The results by continent are as below:
The sportiest country in Asia: China
The sportiest country in Europe: Russia
The sportiest country in Africa: South Africa
The sportiest country in South America: Brazil
The sportiest country in North America: United States of America
The sportiest country in Oceania: Australia

Elite Sport Success

The Elite Sport ranking looks specifically at the performance of each country in all sports recognised by the Global Association of International Sports Federations. The ranking is a research-based annual ranking, and it goes some way to highlighting a country’s enthusiasm for sports.

The top two countries for Elite Sport Success are the USA and Germany respectively. The most popular sport in the USA is American football, with 18.6 million people watching Sunday Night Football regularly.

Number of Olympic medals

The biggest sports competition in the world is arguably the Olympic Games. The International Sporting Index analyses the number of medals each country has won, worked out as an average over the total number of games played; some countries will have been involved with the Games for a lot longer than others, and some don’t take part in the winter games at all.

Coming in first place was, again, the USA, with an average of 56.54 medals won each game. Second and third is Russia and Germany, with 45.67 and 30.54 medals respectively. A number of countries have failed to win any medals over the games they’ve played; this includes Cape Verde, Cambodia, the Maldives, and Bhutan.

National Exercise Levels

As well as the success and popularity of professional sport, the International Sporting Index looks at the general fitness of each country’s residents by assessing exercise levels, based on WHO data.

The countries coming out on top for regular exercise are Uganda, Mozambique, and Tanzania. Contrastingly, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait placed in the bottom three – with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait both having less than half of their population exercising more than 150 minutes a week.


To compile the International Sporting Index, we looked at various datasets in order to assess how each individual country fared across the various factors associated with enthusiasm for sports. The elements we analysed are:

  • National Exercise Levels
  • Global Sport Recognition
  • Elite Sport Success
  • Prevalence of Sports Stadiums
  • Olympic Medal Success
  • FIFA World Ranking

For each of the above categories, we scored each country from 1-5 (with 5 being the highest) and totalled these scores together in order to get our final ISI Score, with a total of 30 being the highest available score. We then ranked the countries based on their scores.

Where there was a tie in the ISI score, the Elite Sports ranking was used as a final ranking factor.

The full dataset is available upon request.



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